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NEWS | Aug. 15, 2016

Boxer Bids Farewell to Kota Kinabalu

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Eric Burgett

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), along with Amphibious Squadron 1 and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) departed Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, following a four-day port visit, Aug. 13.

"We met with the admiral and the region two commanders for a courtesy call and got outstanding support from them," said Capt. Michael Ruth, commanding officer of Boxer. "Their hospitality was great -- great friendship, and more importantly, the professionalism was outstanding."

During the port visit, Royal Malaysian navy and Boxer Sailors participated in several scheduled events including military-to-military discussions, shipboard tours, and sporting events to strengthen ties.

"We had a chance to meet the Royal Malaysian navy leadership on base and they were great hosts; we are very appreciative of their support that enabled our port visit to Sepanggar," said Capt. Patrick Foege, commander, Amphibious Squadron 1. "This port visit is an incredible opportunity for our Sailors and Marines to learn the culture and make new friends. Our interoperability training with the Malaysian forces will continue and we're always looking to build upon previous operations and exercises."

The crew also participated in 17 Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) tours which allowed them to experience both new activities and participate in a greater cultural exchange with the host nation.

"MWR tours affect the crew in a lot of positive ways," said Boxer's Afloat Recreation Specialist Brian Rockenbach. "We introduced them to new activities they haven't done before. For example, in this port call we had over 100 people partake in the discover scuba [tour] which introduced them to scuba diving. It's important for Sailors and Marines because they might not have a chance to come to these countries again and they want the best of the best in four days."

Discovering Malaysia also exposed Boxer Sailors and Marines to a different way of life, filled with cultural traditions they learned about.

"We took a tour of the headhunter's village, which was a reenactment of the old days," said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Tiffany Kunihiro. "On the tour we learned about the old culture of Malaysia, which is very similar to my home, Palau. It was definitely an enriching experience as you learn a lot about their way of life; it' a very slow and laid-back lifestyle compared to ours."

Boxer, flagship of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, with amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans (LPD 18), amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is operating in the Western Pacific in support of security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

While in 7th Fleet, the Boxer ARG and 13th MEU are assigned to Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa.